Evgeny Lebedev

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The Lord Lebedev
Evgeny Lebedev Allan Warren.jpg
Lebedev in 2010
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
17 December 2020
as a life peer
Personal details
Born
Evgeny Alexandrovich Lebedev

(1980-05-08) 8 May 1980 (age 42)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
NationalityRussian and British
Parent
RelativesVladimir Sokolov (grandfather)
Residence(s)London, England
Education

Evgeny Alexandrovich Lebedev, Baron Lebedev[1] (Russian: Евгений Александрович Лебедев, tr. Evgeniy Aleksandrovich Lebedev,[a] pronounced [ɪ̯ɪvˈɡʲenʲɪɪ̯ ˈlʲebʲɪdʲɪf]; born 8 May 1980), is a Russian-British businessman, who owns Lebedev Holdings Ltd, which in turn owns the Evening Standard and ESTV (London Live). He is also a investor in The Independent.[3]

He derives his wealth from his father, Alexander Lebedev, a Russian oligarch and former KGB officer[4][5][6] who was put on Canada's sanctions list following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[7]

In July 2020, Lebedev was nominated for a life peerage by British prime minister Boris Johnson for philanthropy and services to the media, a move that drew criticism.[8][9][10] The Sunday Times has alleged that British security services warned that granting Lebedev a peerage posed a national security risk, but Johnson went ahead with it despite the security service assessment.[11] Boris Johnson said that the article was "simply incorrect."[12] Lebedev has stated that he is not a security risk and his family "has a record of standing up for press freedom" in Russia.[10] Lebedev has sat in the House of Lords as a crossbench life peer since 19 November 2020.[13]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Moscow, Lebedev is the son of Alexander Lebedev, a Russian banker and former officer of the First Chief Directorate of the USSR's KGB and later its successor, the SVR, and his first wife, engineer Natalia Sokolova; his maternal grandfather Vladimir Sokolov was a scientist, and a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, later the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He moved to London at the age of eight, when his father began working at the KGB rezidentura in the Soviet Embassy. He attended St Barnabas and St Philip's Church of England Primary School in Kensington, followed by Holland Park Comprehensive School and Mill Hill School. He studied the history of art at Christie's in London. He has lived in the UK ever since, and became a British citizen (with dual nationality) in 2010.[14][15]

Media interests[edit]

On 21 January 2009, Evgeny and his father bought a 65% share in the Evening Standard newspaper.[16] The previous owners, Daily Mail and General Trust plc, continue to hold 24.9% of the company.[17] Under the Lebedevs' ownership, it became a free newspaper in October 2009; circulation tripled immediately to 700,000.[18]

On 25 March 2010, just weeks before it was due to close, Lebedev bought The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. On 26 October, the i newspaper was launched, the first national daily newspaper to be launched in the UK since The Independent in 1986, at a time of falling newspaper circulations and title closures.[19] In 2011, he launched The Journalism Foundation, to promote "free and independent journalism throughout the world", although it was closed down after a year.[20]

In February 2016, it was announced that Independent Press Ltd had reached an agreement to sell the i to Johnston Press, and that The Independent would become digital-only from March 2016.[21] In 2019, it was reported that the Government's then Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright issued a public interest intervention notice and investigation into Lebedev's sale of a 30% stake in the publications to a private Saudi investor.[22][23] The Competitions and Markets Authority's investigation found that the sale "would not result in a 'substantial lessening of competition'."[24] Ofcom judged that the sale had not led to "any influence" on the news outlets controlled by the British-Russian businessman.[25][22]

Other business interests, real estate, and political influence[edit]

Lebedev co-owns The Grapes, a riverside pub in Limehouse, London, with Sir Ian McKellen and Sean Mathias.[26] In 2012 he purchased the hotel Château Gütsch in Lucerne, Switzerland, and commissioned Martyn Lawrence Bullard to renovate it.[27] He later sold it to Kirill Androsov.

He has been reported to own a flat in central London near Regent's Park as well as the Grade II-listed mansion Stud House in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, and two large properties within 11 miles (18 km) of each other, in the Umbrian countryside, Italy.[28][29]

He had maintained friendship with Boris Johnson since the late 2000s,[30] with Lebedev's Evening Standard going all out in support of Johnson as the Mayor of London.[28] Johnson has been reported to have attended vodka and caviar parties hosted by Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev in the UK and Italy throughout the 2010s.[30] According to Byline Times, their relationship caused concern in the UK's security circles who assessed both Johnson and Lebedev as security risks.[28] Byline Times reported that the evaluation of Evgeny Lebedev as a security risk changed in June 2020, the decision allegedly having been pushed through by Cabinet Office officials.[31][32]

Peerage[edit]

In July 2020, he was nominated for a life peerage by prime minister Johnson in the 2020 Political Honours.[33] Lebedev has sat in the House of Lords as a crossbench life peer since 19 November 2020[13] with the title Baron Lebedev, of Hampton in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and of Siberia in the Russian Federation.[34] Lebedev was supported at his House of Lords introduction ceremony by Lord Clarke of Nottingham and Lord Bird.[35] He made his maiden speech during the Queen's speech debate on 12 May 2021.[36]

The Sunday Times reported that security services were uneasy over Lebedev from 2013 and Lebedev's father was a KGB agent.[37] SNP leader Ian Blackford wanted Lebedev's parliamentary pass revoked due to these concerns.[38] House of Lords speaker Lord McFall said the procedure for vetting new peers should be tightened up.[38] The Guardian wrote, "Johnson has been accused of brushing off security concerns about Lebedev, which whom he has a close relationship, attending parties at his Italian castle, including when he was foreign secretary."[38] Lebedev has stated that he is not a security risk and is "proud to be a British citizen and consider Britain my home". He said his father "spent his time campaigning against corruption and illegal financial dealings" and his family "has a record of standing up for press freedom" in Russia.[10]

The Guardian described Lebedev as "a surprise name among the 36 life peerage nominations which have led to accusations of 'cronyism' against the prime minister".[39] Mark Galeotti wrote that the move indicated Johnson's eagerness "to show contempt for Britain's intelligence agencies."[40] Dominic Cummings said that Boris Johnson was warned of security concerns.[41] The New York Times wrote in 2022, "nobody is a better example of the cozy ties between Russians and the [British] establishment than Mr. Lebedev."[4]

As of March 2022, Lebedev had spoken only once in the Lords. After this was reported, he asked two parliamentary questions.[38]

The Labour Party tabled a House of Commons motion that would force the government to reveal security advice given to prime minister Johnson about the peerage. A number of Conservative MPs supported the motion,[42] which on 29 March 2022 succeeded, requiring the documents to be made available to MPs by 28 April that year.[43] However, the deadline was missed and the Cabinet Office Minister Michael Ellis confirmed that more time was needed to consider what information could be divulged.[43] A few weeks later the Government informed the House of Commons that, in order to "protect national security", the detailed security advice would not be released.[44]

Charity work[edit]

Lebedev is the patron of the Evening Standard's Dispossessed Fund, which helps to address poverty in London, and has raised over £13m since its launch in 2010.[45] In 2018, he launched #AIDSFree, a cross-title campaign between The Independent and Evening Standard to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[46] In 2019, he announced that both newspapers would launch a multiple-year campaign to tackle homelessness in London and around the world.[47]

Since the coronavirus lockdown began in the United Kingdom, Lebedev's news titles appealed in partnership with food surplus charity The Felix Project to supply food to vulnerable people, frontline charities and NHS hospitals.[48][49] In December 2020, the 'Food for London Now' appeal announced that it had surpassed its £10 million target and delivered 20 million meals.[50]

Personal life[edit]

According to The Daily Telegraph, Lebedev previously dated British actress Joely Richardson.[51] While he denies rumours about him being gay, which earned him the nickname "Two Beards"[b] coined by Private Eye, he is said not to mind people thinking so, according to media reports.[15]

Lord Lebedev collects modern British art, and owns pieces by Tracey Emin, Sir Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Jake and Dinos Chapman.[52] According to the New Statesman, he also has a wide knowledge of Renaissance art and vorticist poetry.[53] He had a pet wolf called Boris, named after the former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.[54]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The BGN/PCGN transliteration of Russian is used for his name here. ALA-LC system: Evgeniĭ Aleksandrovich Lebedev, ISO 9 system: Evgenij Aleksandrovič Lebedev.[2]
  2. ^ See Beard (companion)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Titled". The Daily Telegraph. 19 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Russian – BGN/PCGN transliteration system". transliteration.com. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Evening Standard owner Lebedev uses front page to urge Putin to halt invasion". The Independent. 13 May 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  4. ^ a b Landler, Mark; Castle, Stephen (1 March 2022). "U.K. Moves to Tighten Laws on Oligarchs. Critics Say It's Too Late". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  5. ^ Usborne, Simon (21 February 2021). "The Dizzying Social Rise of Russian Scion Evgeny Lebedev". Town & Country. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  6. ^ Urwin, Harry Yorke, Gabriel Pogrund and Rosamund. "How Boris Johnson's friendship with Evgeny Lebedev deepened despite MI6 concerns". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  7. ^ "Canada puts sanctions on Russian media tycoon Alexander Lebedev". The Guardian. 21 May 2022.
  8. ^ Woodcork, Andrew (31 July 2020). "The Independent's Evgeny Lebedev awarded peerage by PM". The Independent. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  9. ^ Courea, Eleni; Maguire, Patrick; O'Neill, Sean (31 July 2020). "Evgeny Lebedev: Son of KGB agent handed a seat in the Lords". The Times. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  10. ^ a b c "Evgeny Lebedev: I am not some agent of Russia". BBC News. 11 March 2022.
  11. ^ Yorke, Gabriel Pogrund, Harry. "Boris Johnson's Russian crony Evgeny Lebedev got peerage after spies dropped warning". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  12. ^ "Boris Johnson denies intervening over Evgeny Lebedev peerage". BBC News. 7 March 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  13. ^ a b "Contact information for Lord Lebedev". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  14. ^ Aspden, Peter (20 November 2019). "Lunch with the FT: Evgeny Lebedev". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  15. ^ a b Freddy Gray (26 September 2015). "The strange world of Evgeny Lebedev". The Spectator.
  16. ^ Andrew Cave (2 July 2009). "Evgeny Lebedev spells out his vision for the Evening Standard". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  17. ^ O'Carroll, Tristan. "DMGT confirms Standard to be sold to Lebedev". MediaWeek.
  18. ^ Stephen Brook (15 January 2010). "ABCs: Free London Evening Standard breaks through 600,000 barrier". The Guardian.
  19. ^ "Lebedev family buys Independent in deal to secure paper's future" Archived 27 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine, London Evening Standard website
  20. ^ Greenslade, Roy (10 February 2012). "Journalism Foundation gets its first project off the ground". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  21. ^ "The Independent will become the first national newspaper to go digital-only". The Independent. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  22. ^ a b Mayhew, Freddy (16 September 2019). "Independent and Standard 'vindicated' by Ofcom report into Saudi investor deals, says owner". Press Gazette.
  23. ^ "Sale of Standard and Independent stakes to Saudi investor investigated". the Guardian. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  24. ^ Tobitt, Charlotte (19 August 2019). "Government missed deadline to probe Saudi investments in Standard and Independent, judge says". Press Gazette. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  25. ^ "Government ends probe of Evening Standard stake sale". Financial Times. 16 September 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  26. ^ "The Grapes, Limehouse. Spanning 500 years of history". thegrapes.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  27. ^ Doak, Alex (12 January 2015). "Chateau Gütsch: Journey to Lucerne, the ticking heart of watchmaking". City A.M. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  28. ^ a b c Otto English (25 October 2019). "Spooking the Spooks: Media Complicity and Security Concerns over Lebedev and Johnson". Byline Times.
  29. ^ Anne Applebaum (8 March 2013). "In From the Cold". The New York Times.
  30. ^ a b Harding, Luke; Sabbagh, Dan (21 October 2020). "Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev: a decade of politics, parties and peerages". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  31. ^ Sweeney, John (20 August 2020). "What Changed To Make Evgeny Lebedev No Longer a Security Risk?". Byline Times. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  32. ^ Yorke, Gabriel Pogrund, Harry. "Boris Johnson's Russian crony Evgeny Lebedev got peerage after spies dropped warning". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  33. ^ Waterson, Jim (31 July 2020). "Johnson peerage for Lebedev crowns mutually beneficial friendship". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  34. ^ "Crown Office | The Gazette | Notice". The London Gazette. 23 November 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  35. ^ "Quentin Letts: Timeless Gove keeps calm and carries on charming". The Times. 18 December 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  36. ^ "Queen's Speech Volume 812: debated on Wednesday 12 May 2021". Hansard. 12 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  37. ^ Urwin, Harry Yorke, Gabriel Pogrund and Rosamund. "How Boris Johnson's friendship with Evgeny Lebedev deepened despite MI6 concerns". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  38. ^ a b c d Lord Speaker urges tougher vetting amid concerns over Evgeny Lebedev The Guardian. 15 March 2022
  39. ^ Simon Murphy and Jim Waterson (31 July 2020). "Evgeny Lebedev, Jo Johnson and Ian Botham among 36 peerage nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  40. ^ Galeotti, Mark (4 August 2020). "Lebedev's Peerage Highlights London's Need to Address Russian Influence". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  41. ^ "Boris Johnson was warned of Lebedev security concerns, says Cummings". BBC News. 16 March 2022. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  42. ^ Labour and Tory rebels force disclosure of security advice on Lebedev peerage The Guardian. 29 March 2022
  43. ^ a b "Deadline for publishing Lebedev peerage documents missed". BBC News. 28 April 2022. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  44. ^ "Ministers block release of Lebedev peerage details on security grounds". The Independent. 12 May 2022. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  45. ^ "Comic Relief gives the Evening Standard's Dispossessed Fund a £1m". London Evening Standard. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  46. ^ "Our Aids appeal has changed attitudes and helped challenge 30 years of stigma #AIDSfree". The Independent. 1 February 2019.
  47. ^ "Join our campaign working towards a future where no one has to worry about where they will sleep tonight #TheHomelessFund". The Independent. 20 November 2019.
  48. ^ "It's the challenge of our lifetime — let's unite to feed London". Evening Standard. 27 March 2020. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  49. ^ "Almost there! £7.5m to help feed the hungry". Evening Standard. 10 July 2020. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  50. ^ "The Food for London Now appeal has raised £10m and delivered 20m meals: Thank You London". Evening Standard. 18 December 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  51. ^ Williams, Sally (4 October 2015). "Joely Richardson interview: 'Work saved me from my grief'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  52. ^ Sunyer, John (2 April 2015). "Evgeny Lebedev, Britain's youngest newspaper proprietor". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  53. ^ Elmhirst, Sophie (1 July 2011). "Oligarch, reinvented". New Statesman. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  54. ^ Hatterstone, Simon (4 May 2012). "Evgeny Lebedev: Don't call me an oligarch". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 February 2016.

External links[edit]